Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles of candidates running for State House District 46.
It is not immediately apparent when reading Gabriel Nila’s campaign platform that the aspiring State House member is a Republican.
Nila, who teaches middle school science and technology at Del Valle, is running to represent the 46th District while advocating for decriminalizing marijuana and putting a stop to gentrification in East Austin. These issues are not typical staples of a Republican campaign, but Nila said they are true to his values nonetheless.
“I was a single dad for quite a while,” Nila said. “So I got to see a different perspective in life. When I was raising my daughter we would sit down at the table and I would talk to her about the values that were important to me, which is basically life, liberty and opportunity.”
Nila said he has always been a Conservative in the sense that he believes the government should stay out of people’s lives as much as possible.
“I’m a firm believer that the government should be away from as much as possible and only be there when they need to,” Nila said. “I want lower taxes. I want the government to not be so intrusive with the stuff that’s going on in our personal lives.”
An issue where Nila would like to see less government involvement is that of marijuana possession. Nila said he wants to work towards decriminalizing and eventually legalizing marijuana.
“One (benefit) is the economic benefit,” Nila said. “The other advantage that we’re seeing is sort of twofold. In the school to prison pipeline, we want to decriminalize that action with the kids so that they don’t face any type of legal issues on that front. But at the same time it works for the parents because … if we can move forward to not have a parent arrested for possession, they’re still able to keep their job.”
Nila said his experience as a teacher at an alternative education campus directly informed his views on issues such as marijuana legalization.
“When you have a child that reacts in a negative way in front of you because their mom or dad or guardian is incarcerated because they were caught with a little bit of weed, it changes your perspective on life,” Nila said.